Settling for a Second Chance

I’ve heard about people who were madly, insanely in love with one another, and then as time passed, they grew apart and discovered that what once connected them, now separated them. Together, they came to this conclusion, and with love and the best wishes for future happiness, they parted ways, attended each other’s weddings, and never had a foul word to say about one another.

These are the people, who when you ask them about their ex-boyfriends or girlfriends, they smile and happily swear they are still very close to each and every single one of them and have no hurt feelings about the way things ended or how they collapsed.

May come as no surprise, but I’m not one of these people. Not in the very least.

My breakups have been messy. Complicated. Painful. Drawn out and involving discussions and several hours getting down to the heart of everything. At times, I’ve been the one left with a million unanswered questions and a mind that just can’t understand why; and then I’ve also been the heart breaker who can’t comply with the pleas to stay in a relationship. In my experience, though not extremely vast, when I fall for someone and my emotions get involved, leaving or being left by that person isn’t an easy task. Though I am at least friendly with a few of my exes and remain in contact with almost all of them, the initial sting…and several months after, were far from cordial.

Strangely enough, if I think about patterns in my past relationships, they have also all come full circle. And more often times than not, I’ve attempted to rekindle a flame or been asked for a second chance.

Most recently, right around Christmas, Mr. Idea came back into the picture. He was putting up his Christmas tree and stumbled across an ornament I gave him when we dated and the memories of that very special time in our partnership came flooding back. He sent me an email, mailed me card, and called me saying how much he missed me, how much he believes in us, and how if given the opportunity, he could be the man that I needed. The man that stood by my side and supported me, could meet my every desire, and fulfill my romantic dreams. He would change, he would do what was required to put the pieces back together and he apologized profusely about all the pain, all the harsh words exchanged, and the tears he made me cry.

Had this happened, say six months ago, I have no doubt in my mind, I would have cried on the phone, invited butterflies back into my tummy, and despite the screaming pleas from my friends and family to run far, far away from him – I would have given him a second chance.

But since Mr. Idea and I broke up – a lot of things have changed for me. I started this journey and this blog, I met someone else, my career progressed, I found my footing in my newfound home of Manhattan, and I stopped letting the fear of being alone rule my life. With other exes in the past, when they would ultimately realize the mistake they made when breaking up with me, I’d always give them the benefit of a doubt and welcome them back in my heart. Somehow, I was afraid if I didn’t give them another opportunity to prove we were meant together, I could make this horrible, ridiculous mistake that could screw up the course of my love life and leave me 45 and single, with three cats, living in the Bronx. Or if I woke up one day a little lonelier than the one before, and knew that the man I left waiting in the dust was still getting coughing over my exhaust, I would reach out to him, regardless if I saw a future or not, just to fill a void in my heart and in my bed.

I don’t think it is always the reason why, but sometimes, people ask for or agree to second chances in relationships because they are simply afraid that nothing better is out there. That this love – or the love they once felt with this person – will never be matched, never compare to what could be waiting in the future. I distinctively remember Mr. Faithful, when we sorta toyed with the idea of getting back together my sophomore year of college, drained and tired of all of our discussions laying on my dorm room bed, saying, “Linds, maybe we just need to accept that this is love. And this is as good as it gets. If we don’t want to be alone, we should just settle for what it is that we have, regardless of how hard it is.

And his words, those words, were the ones I heard screaming loud and clear in my head when Mr. Idea stated his case for why we deserved another shot. If I’m going to get married one day, if I’m going to fall in love, if I’m going to commit to someone with everything I have and support them in their good times and in their bad – it isn’t going to be someone who it feels like I’m settling for. It is going to be someone who sweeps me off my feet – no matter how much hell I can be in heels.

I won’t say I don’t believe in second chances because sometimes giving a look at what was, can help you realize what you had (or how much you didn’t want what you had) – and also, by having a conversation with a previous lover who you aren’t sure you’re over, can give you that closure everyone needs. When Mr. Unavailable’s ex-lady was so cold about his grand gesture, I felt bad for him (though I enjoyed the chocolates and flowers, her loss!) because to release the what-if monsters, all you need are a few words to why a second chance isn’t in the cards. Even more so, that second chance we pray for, we wish for, we lose sleep over, and we dream about isn’t always “take two” with our ex-lover, but could be the starting scene with someone else, our second chance in disguise. Or maybe a second shot at a powerful relationship with ourselves.

Nevertheless, when it comes to breaking up and realizing that walking away from a relationship or a could-be relationship is better than sticking around – it’s important to realize that sometimes, endings happen for a reason. Through this journey, I was able to finally put away any wishful thinking or deluded illusions about the one man from my past who I was not completely over. And so, ironically enough, when he came to bait me back into the ocean of disaster we created, I very honestly and openly told him that my heart wasn’t in it. Nor would it be.

And instead of  believing that he could change or that all the things that were never what I wanted would start to fit my fancy, I decided that I’d rather be alone than be stuck in a relationship that already failed once. I’d rather be in my single shoes than to return to a man who hurt me, who I merely fell in love with the idea of, and who even if I squint my eyes and rack my imagination, I can’t see standing up at the alter, gleaming at me as I cascade down the aisle.

That by not settling out of fear and giving him a second chance, I instead gave myself the opportunity to be free to meet someone who will never need to ask for one in the first place.

Thank you to everyone who submitted photos for my new page, Addicts Unite. If you’d like to submit a photo of you reading the blog with a link back to your blog/Twitter, please email Lindsay!

26 thoughts on “Settling for a Second Chance

  1. I don’t believe in 2nd Chances period. There was a reason for the split and sadly people rarely change and most don’t realize a change for someone else is temporary at best where as a change for yourself has a better chance at permanency.

    Your last paragraph says it best Lindsay!

  2. Yes! I think what you are confronting here is a profound truth that many people avoid, because… it’s scary. It’s scary to turn down an offer of love, to believe that there might be more out there, to ignore the self-help articles, grandparents, and well meaning friends who ask what you are waiting for. It’s scary to realize that real love IS hard to find (and rare). It’s hard to commit to seeking it out and waiting (however long) to find it. But that little voice urging you to hold out– that’s your instinct telling you that it will be worth it in the end. And it will.

  3. Thank you for this post and tweeting it to me. I believe in second chances, hell maybe a third or fourth. I am a glutton for punishment, a believer in romance, and a sucker for love. That being said, when I leave I burn all bridges leading to my heart. I can only be walked on so many times. Perhaps I am predisposed to compromise after seeing my mother and father enjoy a thirty plus year marriage that was dysfunctional at best. I have done my share of delivering pain, but I also bleed the anguish of one rejected. Only time will tell if my marriage will survive my history.

  4. Women believe in 2nd chances, because we like to see if someone can change or has changed. What we forget to do is really treat it like a 2nd chance. A NEW start. Most of the time we just fall back into where we were when the relationship left off. We are already comfortable with them, tends to make it hard to remember it’s suppose to be a new beginning.

    So there shouldn’t be 2nd chances, unless it’s actually going to be a 2nd chance. Again, a NEW beginning. Or you can take the man’s route and just say screw the 2nd chance. There are more fishies out there to explore anyway.

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  6. Another great article Lindsay. I’m one of the ones that hasn’t had a bad breakup… always amicable. But that in itself is tragic… that two people become so emotionally distant that there’s no passion left, not even the angry indignant kind. Brilliant!

  7. I’ve been learning this lesson too. When I recently found out my ex was engaged, I played through the last time we had done the “should we date again?” run around, how he decided–even though he was the one who brought it up again–that he didn’t want to give us a second chance, but how I was the one who ended the friendship. And I wondered, if I had chosen to stay, just as his friend, would he maybe have matured, or at least been bothered by his residual feelings for me enough not to date his now fiance? What if I had just been patient?

    But I shouldn’t have “been patient” for a guy who didn’t want to date me. And though I regret that we always seemed to “end” things in a very broken, hurtful way, I don’t regret NOT giving him a second chance. Even if it might have meant a different future. I’m a little sad he’s engaged to someone else, but I’m not at all sorry for the choices that took me away from him.

  8. Great Post, I do believe in 2nd chances. maybe you guys weren’t just right for each other “right now”. you know? However, it won’t like feel like a 2nd chance if it happens again. I just feel like we as women often look for second chances instead of just living out lives

  9. “That by not settling out of fear and giving him a second chance, I instead gave myself the opportunity to be free to meet someone who will never need to ask for one in the first place”.

    well said :)

  10. “Nevertheless, when it comes to breaking up and realizing that walking away from a relationship or a could-be relationship is better than sticking around – it’s important to realize that sometimes, endings happen for a reason.”—I’m so sending your blog link to a friend with this part highlighted. She’s broken up and gotten back together with her boyfriend more time than I can count.

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  12. I think what you described about understanding that some relationships are “failed” or rather just not meant to provide you with the satisfaction you need in order to commit forever, is the exact reason some people are able to be friends and speak kindly of their exes. I know there is one old boyfriend that I will say to this day I still love and will always love, and yes his name does bring a smile to my face, even though I am married to the man I KNOW is the love of my life. I think it’s just a realization that our relationship no matter the fact that it was not meant to last forever, was absolutely necessary in healing us both and pushing us towards the person we needed to be. It wasn’t easy nor pretty when we broke up, but we both see the value in what we had and appreciate it for what it was.

  13. You will get many, many chances when we are in the relationship. At some point, I will bail if I feel like the continual sorries are insincere and you are using me. But once the relationships fails (no matter who initiates the end), I have never gone back. There is no second chance at the relationship. I have had guys come back and ask for a second chance and even considered it but ultimately I say no because they are no longer in my heart in the same way.

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